The 13-35, 8-7 with-John-Wall Washington Wizards host the 29-20 Brooklyn Nets tonight in Washington. Here’s three things to watch.
1) Controlling transition, controlling the glass. Any gameplan that involves trying to turn back the Wizards starts with point guard John Wall, the former top overall pick whose blazing, unique end-to-end speed can wreak havoc against a Brooklyn backcourt that’s had numerous issues defending quick guards this season. The easiest way to plug a team in transition is simply to make all of your shots, but it won’t be that easy; the Nets need to put up a respectable showing on the offensive glass to limit Washington’s opportunities to get out and run off defensive rebounds and outlet passes. If the Nets “leak out” their guards, sending them back on defense as soon as a shot’s up, and allow their big men to chase down the loose balls, they should have a shot at stuffing the transition game.
2) Controlling Wall. causes people to underrate the rest of his well-rounded game; Wall is a creative passer and finisher, and despite a shaky outside shot, he’s shooting a respectable 36% on long two-pointers this season. The Wizards are 8-7 with Wall on the floor this season and 5-28 when he sits out. The Wizards don’t have a plethora of effective offensive players, if Deron Williams can check Wall enough to render him ineffective, this *should* be an easy victory.
3) Pounding the paint. Outside of Wall, the two biggest threats the Nets face tonight come on the interior: Nene and Emeka Okafor. Nene is a strong & talented scorer who, as you might remember, scored over Brook Lopez to send the last Nets-Wizards game to its first overtime. Okafor is one of the league’s best rebounders, and watching he and Reggie Evans fight for loose balls will either be highly enjoyable, rip the floor in half, or both.
BONUS: Mirza Teletovic not airballing three consecutive shots.